Saturday, December 5, 2015

Last photograph with my parents

Here is the last photograph of my parents and me together, 2004. My father, who was a physicist at the National Physical Laboratory, died last year. He just turned over in bed, and then he was gone. And my mother died today. Her apartment, where she lived alone after Dad died, caught fire while she was sleeping and she died of smoke inhalation. Her body was found in the bathroom, with one hand on a bucket. She was 83, and part way through a book she was writing.

Here is a news announcement about Mom. There was also a notice about her cremation. And finally, prayers were held at the Arya Samaj temple in Delhi on 13 Dec 2015.

And here is the last photo of all the five sisters (Mom was the oldest) together. This was taken at a family reunion this year:

This poem by Larkin comes back to me.

Aubade (Philip Larkin)

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night. 
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. 
In time the curtain-edges will grow light. 
Till then I see what’s really always there: 
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, 
Making all thought impossible but how 
And where and when I shall myself die. 
Arid interrogation: yet the dread 
Of dying, and being dead, 
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify. 

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse 
—The good not done, the love not given, time 
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because 
An only life can take so long to climb 
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never; 
But at the total emptiness for ever, 
The sure extinction that we travel to 
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, 
Not to be anywhere, 
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true. 

This is a special way of being afraid 
No trick dispels. Religion used to try, 
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade 
Created to pretend we never die, 
And specious stuff that says No rational being 
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing 
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound, 
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, 
Nothing to love or link with, 
The anaesthetic from which none come round. 

And so it stays just on the edge of vision, 
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill 
That slows each impulse down to indecision. 
Most things may never happen: this one will, 
And realisation of it rages out 
In furnace-fear when we are caught without 
People or drink. Courage is no good: 
It means not scaring others. Being brave 
Lets no one off the grave. 
Death is no different whined at than withstood. 

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape. 
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, 
Have always known, know that we can’t escape, 
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go. 
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring 
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring 
Intricate rented world begins to rouse. 
The sky is white as clay, with no sun. 
Work has to be done. 
Postmen like doctors go from house to house